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Federal court supports 1st amendment against Dearborn (again)

The City of Dearborn has been somewhat too blatant in its attempts to cater to agitating Muslims and shut down both evangelism and criticism of Islam. Repeatedly the city has been slapped down by courts. For example, Dearborn was forced to allow Christians to pass out literature and "proselytize" at the Dearborn Arab festival, and eventually they canceled the festival itself for 2013.

Last year I reported on what one might call an innovative attempt by Dearborn to shut down Christian freedom of speech in the city: They tried to require Terry Jones to sign a sweeping hold harmless agreement as a prerequisite for receiving an "event permit" for a rally near a mosque. As I pointed out at the time, the wording of the hold harmless agreement was so broad that it could have been taken to indemnify the city for all manner of shenanigans, including (if they chose) simply arresting Jones for criticizing Islam or speaking in favor of Christianity.

Now a federal judge has agreed with that interpretation of the nature of the hold harmless agreement and has issued summary judgement. Her ruling is that the hold harmless agreement appeared to require plaintiffs to waive their right to hold the city liable for its otherwise actionable conduct as a condition of exercising their right to free speech. Therefore, that requirement is unconstitutional.

Heaven knows, freedom of religion and speech and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure are under unprecedented attack in America. It seems that every day brings a new piece of bad news of one kind or another. It's nice to see a story like this occasionally where the system actually works.

Comments (7)

I am still waiting for the ACLU to jump in feet first and defend the civil liberties of Americans under the First Amendment...well, I don't suppose I will hold my breath. Somehow they never seem to be there when you need them. Only when defending civil liberties damages our culture.

Thanks goodness for the Thomas More legal society to fill in the glaring holes left by the ACLU.

First Amendment jurisprudence has offered some crumbs from the liberal table through the years, and I'm grateful for it. Still, it is horrifying that officials at every level of our government constantly must be slapped down in court over these things. What does it say about the presence of large numbers of Muslims in a single American community, that it can bring this kind of pressure to bear on the police and city hall to begin with? It's really remarkable, and it ought to be a terrible embarrassment to Muslims in general, that the only recourse that remains is to cancel the festival altogether, for fear of what might happen if it were allowed to proceed in the face of any Christian witness. It is enough to make one suspect that force and fear are all the only things holding the whole Islamic racket together.

This is a victory, but also a warning.

Sorry though I am to say it, I believe (based on interviews with people at the Arab festival, etc.) that far too many in the Muslim community support the suppression of Christian witness and speech if critical of Islam and believe that anything bad that happens thereafter, including the Muslims' own bad behavior, is all the fault of the uppity Christians for "making trouble." The liberal media is all too willing to support them in this. I had to laugh, though a trifle wryly, when I read a MILive news story about the cancellation of the Arab Festival in 2013. It stated that some Christians had been "involved in a riot" last year at the Arab festival. Two more lines revealed that "involved in a riot" meant that the Muslims at the festival were throwing rocks and other items *at the Christians*, not that the Christians were rioting.

It rather reminds one of the way that, in Acts, Paul and his companions often get blamed for being trouble makers on the grounds that other people start riots when they come to speak in a given town.

"involved in a riot" meant that the Muslims at the festival were throwing rocks and other items *at the Christians*,

Yes, that's right. In other news: "Christians involved in savage, unprovoked attacks, where human flesh was shamelessly being eaten in front of thousands. And the Christians were SINGING about the whole thing! Come to the Coliseum tomorrow for repeat performance!"

It is enough to make one suspect that force and fear are all the only things holding the whole Islamic racket together.

I am aware of Muslim claims that Islam not only allows conversion, but that the Koran advises Muslims to convert rather than kill those who do not believe in Islam. However, in practice (some) Muslims feel completely free to kill anyone who is not NOW a Muslim whether that person has ever been offered a chance to convert ("freely"???) or not. They kill innocent children of non-Muslims merely because they are children of non-Muslims. It is also clear that Islam initially made headway in the world primarily because of force. It started in violence, and continues in violence.

I almost hate to ask this question since it could be taken to mean that I am in some way siding with our mortal enemies the Muslim infiltrators, but I'll go ahead and risk it:

What is the Court's basis for jurisdiction in the case? My assumption is that it has to be incorporation. If so, I hardly see the judgment as some sort of first amendment victory. Anymore than I saw the Mortal Combat decision as a victory for free speech and freedom of expression. ...

(I did go to the story you linked in the OP, Lydia, and from there tried to download and read the judge's 12 page ruling, but to no avail. So I'm sort of working in the blind here.)

I'm sure incorporation is assumed, Terry. In fact, I almost made a comment about that.

My relationship as a bit of a con-law layman geek to incorporation is twofold: On the one hand, I question it for originalist reasons. On the other hand, now that it is in place, it ought to be applied consistently. Incorporation in my opinion is not something like, say, Roe v.Wade, that is utterly evil and that we should hope courts will be inconsistent with because it is a matter of letting people commit murder. Incorporation is a little more analogous to laws against religious discrimination. There is a legitimate question as to whether such laws should exist ideally, but given that they do exist, the worst possible outcome is allowing discrimination against, say, Christians while disallowing discrimination against, say, Wiccans. Similarly, incorporation has been used to "outlaw" prayer in the public schools, to name only one thing. If incorporation cannot also be applied consistently to require a city government not to engage in prior restraint on anti-Muslim speech, then we'll get the kind of fake freedom that is the worst outcome of such rulings and laws. It's actually important in a sense that incorporation be applied at least semi-consistently if it's going to exist at all. Other questionable rulings (from an originalist perspective) aren't like that. Even if they are not murderous, like Roe, inconsistent application doesn't have the problems we would have here.

So, while I question incorporation, I don't blame legal firms that use precedents which assume it, so long as they use those precedents reasonably. *Given* the precedents, I think this one was a knock-down case.

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